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The Complete Guide to Replacing Your Air Filter

by | Jan 19, 2022

If it’s your first time changing your home’s air filter, it’s understandable to have a few questions. Even if you’ve changed an air filter before, there’s still a lot you may not know about the process, including why it’s so important and how often it needs to be done. 

Though the process of changing out an AC filter is easy, there’s more to it than most people realize. Below is everything you need to know about changing out AC filters and why you need to stay up on this important home task in Windermere, FL.  

What Is an Air Filter?

AC filters are flat, thin devices used to trap dust particles, pet fur, and other debris before they can enter your HVAC system. AC filters come in different sizes, and they’re commonly made from fiberglass thread, usually wrapped on a cardboard frame. 

Their porous nature helps them trap particles and prevent them from entering or re-entering your home, improving your indoor air quality. 

What’s Indoor Air Pollution?

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “indoor air quality” (IAQ), it refers to the quality of air within your home as it relates to health, comfort, and well-being.  

Indoor air pollution is impossible to avoid altogether, but being aware of the most significant contributors can help you limit it in your home in Windermere, FL.


Bacteria and viruses have different origins, but their behavior is very similar. It hides in your heating vents, on furniture, and any other place that it considers safe. A good air filtration system can catch it before it enters your home. If you or anyone in your family is immunocompromised, then it’s best to change your filter more often and maybe upgrade to a better one.

Dust Mites

Dust mites may seem like more of a summer problem, but they exist year-round. Improper ventilation allows these pests to thrive, and due to their tiny stature, it can be nearly impossible to find them. Those with strong immune systems may not notice them, but dust mites can cause ongoing health issues for those with respiratory problems. 

Lingering Particles

Pet dander, particles from daily cleaning supplies, and cigarette smoke in the home can lead to respiratory issues. Fibrous materials like furniture cloth, curtains, bedding, carpets, and rugs absorb these particles. They may or may not create a smell in the home, and the only way to remove them is through constant cleaning and air quality measures. Ideally, you need a good filtration system combined with a humidifier. 

Indoor irritants can include:

Anything that can linger in the air and produces a smell can cause minor to major problems for those with weakened immune systems.

How to Change Your AC Filter

Changing the air filter is not necessarily a difficult task, but it’s important. First, you have to find the air filter, which may be in your air conditioning unit or furnace. 

Once you’ve located it, you need to shut off the thermostat. Trying to pull the air filter out while the unit is running is very difficult. 

Determine the size of the air filter. It’s usually printed on the air filter and in the manufacturer’s documentation. Some units may have a sticker stating the size next to the filter port.

Arrows on the filter and the air conditioner or heating unit should coincide. The arrows represent the direction of airflow through the ventilation system. Inserting the filter backward will block the airflow and miss particles, forcing the rest of the unit to work much harder.

Depending on the location of your air conditioning or heater units, it may be prudent to call a specialist to install the filter for you. They will typically do other checks while they’re there to verify everything is running as it should.

The Importance of Changing Your AC Filter

The air conditioning filter is what improves the air quality in your home. Air is either pulled from the outside or recycled from the inside and pushed throughout your home. The filter catches particles and holds them within the filter’s mesh network through magnetism. 

If the filter isn’t changed on a regular basis, it becomes clogged. A clogged filter:

Changing the air filter maintains the overall air quality in the home and helps reduce health problems.

How Often Should Your AC Filter Be Changed? 

Due to the extra moisture in Windermere, FL, you should change your filter often. A good guide to follow is:

Following these guidelines will help ensure your air quality is at its best throughout the year.

AC Filter Types

There are several types of air filters, each with advantages and disadvantages. Selecting the right type depends on your finances, preference, and allergies. The most common types in air conditioning systems are:

Fiberglass Air Filters

Fiberglass air filters are the most common because they are less expensive than the other types and disposable. When you’re finished with the filter, you just pull it out and throw it away. They put less strain on your HVAC system and allow good airflow, but they are ineffective at removing dust and other small particles.

Pleated Filters

Pleated filters are made of polyester or cotton folds. They are more expensive than fiberglass filters and provide better protection against pollen, mold spores, and pet dander. The more pleats there are, the more effective the filter. 

Washable Air Filters

Washable filters are more expensive than pleated and fiberglass filters, but they are reusable so that they can save you money in the long run. It’s best to have several on hand. If you remove one filter and wash it with the intent of placing it directly back into the unit, make sure it is fully dry. A moist filter is less effective and can promote mold growth.

Electrostatic Air Filters

These filters use static to pull particles into them. They are very effective, and many filters (including fiberglass) use this technology to some degree.

HEPA Filters

HEPA filters are perfect for those with allergies. They are more expensive than fiberglass or pleated air filters, but they trap up to 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, pet dander, viruses, bacteria, and other irritants out of the air. 

You want to find filters rated MERV 11 or higher for optimal efficiency. The higher the MERV rating, the more pollutants it will catch, making your HVAC system work harder to do the same amount of work.

UV Filters

UV filters are used in air cleaners, which may or may not be built into your HVAC system. Using ultraviolet light, they kill viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms in the air that passes through them, but they’re not as effective at removing dust and other contaminants.

Best Air Quality & Control Specialists in Windermere, FL

Global Cooling has over 50 years of combined experience in air quality and allergen-relief services. Our professionals are fully trained in air quality control, and every truck is fully stocked. When we come to your house, we can determine the problem and fix it with just one visit.

Call Global Cooling for all of your filtration, cooling, and heating needs. We provide the best products and even better customer service.